Roasting Coffee for the Soul
Bethel College alumni Aaron ’10 and Jessica (Wick) Harsch ’07 are co-founders of Redemption Road Coffee – a privately owned, wholesale coffee roasting business based in Mead, Colo. The venture launched in May of 2016, and the word (and coffee) has been spreading ever since.
“I believe that coffee roasting is an art,” says Aaron, a liberal arts major who began roasting as a hobby years before opening a business. “My process is designed to caramelize the sugar in the beans … none of my coffee is bitter,” he says.
The idea for turning his hobby into a business sparked when a friend suggested it as a means to support Aaron’s ministry, Redemption Road, which empowers men to live a life of true freedom in Christ. The method involves “Road Trip” discipleship groups and weekend men’s retreats, with the aim to raise up leaders for the church.
“Jesus cemented in our hearts this vision of what could be – what we should do,” says Aaron of starting the coffee business.
He also credits some the innovative thinking that inspired Redemption Road Ministry and Redemption Road Coffee to his Bethel education, including influential professors Chad Meister, Ph.D., David Schmidt, Ph.D., and Dennis Engbrecht, Ph.D.
“[They] taught me how to think … [Bethel] freed my heart and mind to be able to do what I do now.”
The Harsch’s transformed part of their home into a production location, thanks to Redemption Road Ministry participants who helped with the electrical wiring. And while Aaron roasts the beans, Jessica – a graduate of Bethel’s nursing program who serves as director of clinical services at Innovage Colorado – manages the administration and marketing.
“She is fully behind it,” Aaron says. “She is really good at helping me implement the dreams God has put in my heart.”
They sell their coffee online, at trade shows, and at seasonal farmer’s markets. New equipment purchased this year enables them to roast and bag a larger volume of coffee in a shorter amount of time than ever before. All Redemption Road Coffee is fair trade and certified organic (with the exception of the Guatemalan Blend), and sourced from carefully chosen farms across the world.
“We only buy coffee from farms that are giving back to their communities,” Aaron says.
Although Aaron uses the business to make a living, a minimum of 10 percent of profit supports Redemption Road Ministry and other charitable efforts.
“It’s capitalism for good; if I create a good product and make a lot of money, I [can] do a lot more good,” he says.
In the future, Aaron and Jessica have three goals in mind: support their family, support Redemption Road ministry and other worthy causes, and continue the business’s growth.
Learn more at https://www.redemptionroadcoffee.com/.